Diary: Where have all the top-rate taxpayers with 10 kids gone?

When George Osborne announced that he was abolishing child benefit payment for higher earners back in October, he told the Conservative annual conference: "A system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit is very difficult to justify."

It would indeed be difficult to justify, if it actually happened. But in the intervening months, the Treasury has done the maths and some interesting statistics have emerged.

The first is that a top-rate taxpayer could get back in child benefit what he or she is paying in income tax only by claiming for at least 10 children. Not many people are that fecund.

Statistic two: across the country there are 365 people claiming child benefit for 10 or more children.

Statistic three: as far as the Treasury can ascertain, none of those 365 is a top-rate taxpayer. In summary, there is not a single known example anywhere of "a system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit".

Pasty tax started with George's hero, Lawson

When the Chancellor announced his now notorious tax on pasties and hot pies, he claimed to be closing a loophole that had existed "for 20 years or more". He was actually understating the case. The Labour Party has dug up a letter written to a Labour MP in April 1984 by the then Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, whom Osborne is known to hold in very high regard.

Lawson explained: "The VAT extension on hot takeaway food which I announced in the Budget applies to food and drink which has been deliberately heated so that it can be consumed while still hot. It does not apply to food and drink that has cooled to room temperature by the time it is sold or to things like pies and pasties which are warm because they are freshly baked and not to enable them to be consumed while still hot."

Lawson was getting a lot of stick because he had just put VAT on fish and chips, but it was no anomaly that pasties were spared. It was the conscious policy of one of Osborne's political heroes.

Cameron chum lands A4e job

According to David Cameron's biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, there was a time when the PM might have envied George Bridges, who was four years younger but rising faster up that narrow career path for young aspirants who go from being political advisers to running the country.

But Bridges' political career never quite took off, and he went into public relations instead. He has now landed the job of rescuing the reputation of A4e, the company hired by the Government to find work for the unemployed, which has been hit by allegations of fraud.

Prince Philip still has gift of the gaffe

The Queen and Prince Philip were on a visit to north London yesterday when they came upon David Miller, a 60-year-old man in a mobility scooter. Proving that his penchant for making risky remarks has not dimmed with age, the Prince inquired: "How many people have you knocked over this morning on that thing?" None, was the answer. Mr Miller said afterwards: "No offence was taken."

Campbell deigns to chair hit show

It is one of those remarks that sticks in the mind. Some years ago your diarist was discussing the BBC's long-running show Have I Got News for You with the then political editor of the Daily Mirror, who stated emphatically that it was one programme he would never go on.

Other journalists could only dream of being important enough to be invited on but Alastair Campbell – for it was he – was just approaching that level of celebrity where an invitation might come his way. Years have passed, he is older, he takes himself less seriously, and he has relented. He is one of the guest chairmen the BBC has lined up for the show's 43rd series, starting on 13 April.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss